Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

October 14, 2018

Matthew 22:1–14

Jesus speaks the parable in our Gospel reading to the Jewish religious leaders, but we should listen too. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who held a wedding feast for his son. He sent out invitations to his guests. This is the picture of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a feast for the eternal Bridegroom, the Son of God. God the Father invites His people to this eternal celebration. 

Jesus gives a history of God’s people in this parable. The Israelites time and time again rejected His care and love of them. In the parable the wedding feast is now ready. The king’s servants go out to call those who have been invited. But they did not wish to come. This does not deter the king though. He sends other servants to them. This time he tells them to describe the feast: My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered and everything is ready. Come to the feast! He was pulling out all the stops! He spared no expense. But they paid no attention and went their own way. One went to his field, another went to his business. They had better things to do. Some of them, though, wanted to put a stop to this so they seized the servants, mistreated them and killed them. 

In the history of God’s people He had sent prophets to them and they ignored them or persecuted and killed them. God’s response is swift, He brings judgment upon His people for their refusal of His invitation. And now this history has come to a head. The one promised by God is standing before these religious leaders. He is the King’s Son, the Son of God. But they reject Him. In great irony, they will mistreat and kill Jesus Himself, the one the wedding feast is for.

Their first response, they simply didn’t want to come, and their second response, they paid no attention, they had better things to do, give us the contrast between our will and the will of God the Father. His will is for us to celebrate with Him and His Son forever. Our will is the opposite, we have things that are more pressing. We have a lot of stuff going on in life! We have a lot of responsibilities. We try to keep up with the way of the world as well. We need new things like society does. We need to keep up with all the TV shows, all our social media accounts, all the things we do with others. There’s often not a lot of time to spend on daily prayer and the daily reading of God’s Word and spending time in Bible Study with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even worship can come to be just one more thing on our plate. Everyone gets the same 168 hours in the week and often times certain things have to give. Too often it’s the one hour of worship that is what gives.

The apostle Paul in the Epistle reading exhorts us to watch how we live, not as unwise but as wise. It may seem as though things in life are getting much worse, unrest among the nations, political acrimony in our own nation, natural disasters causing severe damage and loss of life. But nearly two thousand years ago when Paul wrote these words he said: the days are evil. This is one of the three roadblocks in your life as a Christian. Another is your ancient enemy, the devil. And if those two aren’t enough to prevent you from rejoicing in your Heavenly Father’s invitation, your own sinful flesh is always exerting its own will.

So Paul says, “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” You are very well acquainted with you own will, you know what you want. In His parable He is giving you the will of God: it’s you joining in on the eternal celebration of heaven. Heaven will be the greatest party ever! Since you are well acquainted with your own will, you should get off of yourself and spend time filling yourself up with your Lord’s will. Be in His Word. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it. Don’t put the time in His House in the category of one of the many things you do or even need to do, but as the one thing your Father in heaven is inviting you to. His will is what will truly benefit you and enrich your life eternally.

The second thing Jesus shows us is the startling response of the king. He tells his servants to go out and just start inviting people, anyone and everyone. Think about this for a moment, when they went out and did this, Jesus says that they went out and invited everyone they could find, both bad and good. Those who had rejected the invitation, He did not force eternal glory and celebration upon them but delivered them over to the eternal condemnation and torment they chose. But all these other people, all kinds of people, good people, bad people, anyone and everyone, these are the ones who will be in heaven. The ones who do not reject the invitation of the King Almighty. The ones who see Jesus and see their Lord and their only Savior, they are the ones who will be celebrating forever. 

Jesus is not teaching that you can believe whatever you want or live anyway you want. We see this from a detail in the close of the parable, when everyone is celebrating and having a good time. The king comes in to enjoy seeing the good time everyone is having but he sees a man there without a wedding garment. All those people the servants had gathered together, the good and the bad, they all entered into the wedding feast being clothed. They put away their old clothing which was covered in their badness, and for that matter, their goodness, and were clothed with a clothing that was gleaming and the property of the very king Himself. In other words, He wanted them not to be just who they were, but He wanted them to be His people now, in His eternal care, celebrating eternally the feast of His Son who provided the means for them to be clothed. 

He did this by suffering on the cross for their sin. He took on the clothing of every person of their sin and guilt and died with it. Having risen from the grave, He now is the very clothing we are given to wear, as the Scriptures teach that in Baptism we have been clothed with Christ. It’s not whether you’re good or bad which gets you into heaven, it’s whether you are clothed with Christ. Your Heavenly Father’s will is that you be gleaming and spotless, without sin and guilt. He gives you therefore His Son, who is without sin and guilt and He gives you Him as your clothing.

The apostle Paul again describes this perfectly, how you and I live as the people of God, speaking to one another in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. This is a description of the liturgy, which is responsive, as words are spoken and responded to, words are chanted and sung, and responded to in chant and song. With these words and songs we build each other up, we bless each other, we encourage each other. Two thousand years after Paul wrote, we gather in worship doing the same thing those first Christians did, as the Epistle further says, “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Do you see the pattern? It is our Heavenly Father who invites us and our praise and thanksgiving is in the name His Son, as Paul says, our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only are we following right along in this pattern of the early Church, but of the worship of the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. In Revelation, the worship of the holy ones is presented to the Lord of heaven and earth and the Lamb who was slain in which He accomplished redemption. 

The meal your Lord invites you to here at this altar doesn’t look like much. What it appears is not as pressing as many other things we have going on. But it is much more than it appears. It is a foretaste of the Feast to Come. And it is a very joining in with those already in heaven celebrating the Wedding Feast of the Son of God. Communing with them, we join in with them in their doxology from Revelation to the Father and the Son: 

To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! Amen.